(Series tied at 1-1)
Sometimes, playoff hockey is all about learning from what went wrong. Yesterday, Avtomobilist got the first half of its game just right, jumping to a 2-0 lead over Metallurg. But then, Sergei Mozyakin intervened with another captain’s performance to turn the game around and win it for Magnitka. Today, after celebrating a 2-0 lead in the 21st minute, Avtomobilist froze Mozyakin out of the game. The master marksman was limited to a single shot on Jakub Kovar’s net and Metallurg could muster just one goal in reply. Crucially, when the series heads to the southern end of the Urals on Wednesday, the teams will be deadlocked at 1-1.
The opening goal, in the 13th minute, resembled Avtomobilist’s opener from the previous day. Metallurg had a face-off in the Avto zone, the host seized possession and Alexander Kucheryavenko exchanged passes with Ilya Krikunov before firing home to complete an effective counter-attack. Soon afterwards, Magnitka’s Matt Ellison was removed from the game after a high hit on Evgeny Chesalin – and his absence was felt as the visiting offense stuttered.
Early in the second period, Yegor Milovzorov made it 2-0, reacting fastest to the possibilities after Dmitry Megalinsky attempted a point shot and caught the Metallurg defense by surprise. The game situation was now almost an exact replica of the opening encounter in this series, but Avtomobilist made sure the outcome was different.
True, Metallurg got a goal back midway through the game. Denis Platonov fired in a wrist shot to complete a swift counter-attack and put the outcome back in the balance. But in the final frame, as the visitor looked to ramp up the pressure on Kovar, it ran into a red wall of Avtomobilist defense. The teams shared just nine shots on goal in the third period, a statistic that suited the host perfectly as it levelled up the series.